Category Archive 'Political Correctness'
13 Dec 2017

Peter Salovey’s Christmas Card

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If you were a member of the Yale community, you received this Christmas card (carefully designed to avoid so much as mentioning Christmas) from Yale President Peter Salovey.

30 Nov 2017

Brown University to Allow Students to ‘Self-Identify’ as Persons of Color

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Brown students will obviously not be the first Americans to self-identify as “persons of color.”

Whether costumes and banjos will be issued remains a mystery, according to the College Fix.

Brown University is implementing a change to its graduate school application that will allow applicants to “self-identify” as persons of color. Multiple efforts by The College Fix to clarify the details of this change were ignored by campus officials.

The policy comes as a result of complaints made by graduate students on the Graduate School advisory board that international and Asian American students are not treated as members of historically underrepresented groups by the university, according to The Brown Daily Herald.

One graduate student, Lydia Kelow-Bennett, told The Herald that this decision has led to “institutional invisibility” for these students. Brown defines historically underrepresented groups as “American Indian, Alaskan Native, African American, Hispanic or Latinx and Native Hawaiian and/or Pacific Islander.” The school’s diversity initiatives are intended to benefit members of these groups.

Brown’s criteria for historical underrepresentation “caused some students to not receive invitations to certain events, such as a multicultural student dinner,” The Herald reported.

How allowing applicants to self-identify as persons of color will affect policy relating to the diversity initiatives, and whether the university will take any steps to verify applicants’ self-identification, remain unclear. The Fix reached out multiple times to Brown’s graduate admissions office to inquire into how Brown would ensure that applicants were telling the truth about their self-identified ethnicity. The office did not respond.

RTWT

28 Nov 2017

Hitler Reacts to Grad Student Thought Crimes

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Also via Vanderleun.

09 Nov 2017

Portraits Going Back Up in Pierson College

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Pierson College Entrance

What do you know? Apparently there may actually be some limit to the politically correct insanity at Yale.

The Oldest College Daily reports that the Dean of Yale College put the kibosh on Pierson Head Stephen Davis’s latest grand gesture of inclusion.

Yale College Dean Marvin Chun said that while he is very excited by the conversations about how public art around campus can reflect Yale’s mission, he is also committed to historical preservation.

“In the case of portraits on display in the residential colleges, I think it’s important to keep them hanging, both for preserving the colleges’ histories and for honoring the intentions of alumni, fellows and friends who generously commissioned these portraits,” Chun said. “The two goals of reflecting Yale’s community today and honoring its past are not mutually exclusive.”

One kind of suspects that some prominent alumni donor from Pierson College put in an angry phone call to Woodbridge Hall.

RTWT

07 Nov 2017

Yale Alumni Throwing Up in the Street Again This Morning

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Pierson College Dining Hall

The same bed-wetting, hyper-politically-correct, victim-identity-group-ass-kissing imbecile who, two years ago, took exception to the title of College Master and took the lead in changing it to “Head” is back in action this fall, removing all the portraits of his (white, male) predecessors in office from his residential college dining hall so that contemporary snowflakes-of-color, admitted on the basis of compensatory group favoritism, need not be reminded that they are part of that unfortunate majority of Humanity, along with the Jews, the Catholics, the Irish, Italians, Poles, Finns, Slovaks, Tibetans, Eskimos, Dutchmen, and Australian Aborigines who neglected to found Yale or serve as Masters of Pierson College during the final two-thirds of the last century.

We cannot all be Abraham Pierson or John Hersey, and the knowledge of that gaping, yawning personal void is obviously today too painful to be borne by many people currently attending Yale.

The paintings removed from the walls of Pierson College dining hall in preparation for the annual Pierson… Halloween party — which include the images of former heads of college — will not be remounted, Pierson Head of College Stephen Davis announced in an email to students last Wednesday. Davis wrote that the decision was designed to “prompt conversation on what it means to create common spaces where everyone has a sense of belonging and ownership.”

The initiative comes amid wider conversations about how the abundance of images of white men around campus affect Yale’s inclusivity. During a “Popeyes and Public Art Study Break” on Monday night, Pierson students will gather with Sam Messer ART ’82, associate dean at the Yale School of Art and chair of the Committee on Art in Public Spaces, to discuss what kinds of values, identities and accomplishments are important to honor in public art. During the event, students will also paint portraits of each other that will temporarily hang in the dining hall. For the time being, Davis said, the portraits of former heads of college will be mounted in the Pierson Fellows’ Lounge, and the college will soon create plaques describing the historical context of each portrait.

“There is a long sustained, ongoing, open constructive discussion going on about the role of public art and the kind of art that we want displayed around campus, and with respect to portraiture there have been long-standing concerns among students that the portraits are not diverse enough,” Yale College Dean Marvin Chun told the News. “It is a completely legitimate discussion of what can we do to diversify our portraiture and public art in general, who the artists are and what they’re representing, and so on.”

Chun emphasized that the initial removal of the paintings was prompted by Pierson Inferno and not the ongoing discussions surrounding diversity on campus. Still, he said, Davis has had many conversations with students and administrators regarding paintings in Pierson before the Wednesday announcement.

“That distinction is important, because there is concern about removal of public art,” Chun explained. “[Head Davis] is using this opportunity to continue the discussions he’s already having.”

According to Davis’ email, the Pierson College Council, Pierson Student Activity Committee and the Pierson fellows were consulted before the decision.

Usha Rungoo GRD ’18, a resident Pierson fellow, said that she, as a woman of color, has “long been uncomfortable” entering common spaces at Yale filled mostly with the portraits of white men and is glad that Davis has begun a conversation about diversifying public art. She added that she appreciates that the college community has opened a dialogue about the significance of traditionally underrepresented Pierson affiliates.

RTWT

02 Nov 2017

The American Mind Has Continued to Close

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Jonathan Kay reflects on the publication thirty years ago of Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind only to note sadly just how much worse things have gotten in the course of three more decades.

Much of Bloom’s success no doubt was owed to his book’s inspired title, The Closing of the American Mind. But the timing was perfect, too, arriving on shelves in the fall of 1987, when political correctness was just becoming an acute force for censorship. I was a college student at the time. And reading Bloom’s book helped convince me that, no, it wasn’t just me: something really was wrong with the way my generation was being educated and politically programmed.

Bloom was especially repelled by relativism, which he described as “the consciousness that one loves one’s own way because it is one’s own, not because it is good.” Though he was hardly the first postwar critic to abhor the fragmenting of cultural life and the marginalisation of the Western canon, Bloom went deeper with his analysis, showing how the emerging obsession with identity politics (as we now call it) left students glum and aimless — brimming with grievances, while lacking the sense of common purpose that once animated higher learning.

The author died in 1992, just before the advent of the world wide web exacerbated many of the problems he described. Social media, in particular, has reduced attention spans — making it difficult to teach students classic texts that are not immediately relevant to modern forms of self-identification. At the same time, these networks allow activists to shame heterodox ideas on a peer-to-peer basis.

If Bloom spent a single day on Facebook or Twitter today, he would instantly recognise the “mixture of egotism and high-mindedness” that he detected among his own undergraduates. But he also would be shocked by the rigid ideological conformity that now is demanded of students on matters relating to race, gender and sexuality. The speech codes Bloom saw metastasising in the late 1980s and early 1990s have become largely unnecessary: university administrators can now rely on students to police themselves.

RTWT

28 Oct 2017

Yale “Decolonizes” English Department

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The College Fix has some more bad news for Yale alumni:

A year and a half after a petition circulated calling for Yale to “decolonize the English department,” the first students are enrolled in a new course created by the department to increase the breadth of the curriculum and combat claims of departmental racism.

What’s more, new requirements are in place to ensure a more “diversified” slate of courses.

Previous requirements for the major included two courses in “Major English Poets,” including Chaucer, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton and Eliot, among others. But that two-course series petitioners had deemed actively harmful due to its focus on white male poets. The series is no longer a graduation requirement for Yale’s English majors.

The petition, a Google document which has since been made private, critiqued the perceived whiteness of the English department requirements: “A year spent around a seminar table where the literary contributions of women, people of color, and queer folk are absent actively harms all students, regardless of their identity.”

“It’s time for the English major to decolonize — not diversify — its course offerings,” the petition added. “A 21st century education is a diverse education: we write to you today inspired by student activism across the university, and to make sure that you know that the English department is not immune from the collective call to action.”

Nearly a year after the petition, around seven months ago, Yale’s English faculty voted to “diversity” the curriculum. At the time of the vote, the director of the department’s undergraduate studies, Jessica Brantley, told The Yale Daily News: “We’ve constructed a curriculum that has inclusion as its goal, embedded in the structures of its requirements, and I’m very excited to implement and develop that curriculum further.”

The reconfiguring of the English department’s required courses did not directly address the demands of the petition to do away with the Major English Poets sequences altogether; the courses still exist. The reconfiguration also did not refocus the program’s pre-1800 and pre-1900 literature requirement to address issues of race, gender, and sexuality as demanded by the petition.

Instead, the English department now allows students to fill three required prerequisites from a choice of four different courses: Readings in English Poetry 1, Readings in English Poetry 2, Readings in American Literature, and a newly created course, Readings in Comparative World English Literature.

Because Chaucer and Shakespeare are both studied in English Poetry 1, these expanded options mean that a student could graduate from the program without ever reading either of these authors.

RTWT

26 Oct 2017

British Government: “Men Get Pregnant, Too”

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Daily Signal:

The phrase “pregnant woman” needs to be more inclusive and termed “pregnant people” in a U.N. treaty, the British government announced on Monday.

The British government’s suggestion on proposed amendments to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights claims the wording excludes pregnant transgender people. The treaty says “pregnant women” are protected and not subject to the death penalty, reported The Times.

The current terminology excludes transgender people who have given birth, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office claims.

“We requested that the U.N. Human Rights Committee made it clear that the same right extends to pregnant transgender people,” Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials told The Times.

There are two transgender men on record in the U.K. who have given birth after having a sex change. The biological women kept their womb and ovaries during the change, according to the Sunday report.

Some feminists are not happy about the terminology.

20 Oct 2017

Offended

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“It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what.“

– Stephen Fry, [I saw hate in a graveyard – Stephen Fry, The Guardian, 5 June 2005]”

01 Oct 2017

Boris Quotes Kipling in Burma: “Good Stuff!”

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British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, being a literate chap educated at Eton and Oxford, naturally had the famous Kipling poem come to mind & tongue when invited to bang the bell in a temple of the Great God Budd in what used to be known as Rangoon, Burma.

The wet ends at the Guardian, and the British Left generally, had a cow over the incident.

Boris Johnson caught on camera reciting Kipling in Myanmar temple.

Foreign secretary’s impromptu recital of colonial-era poem was so embarrassing the UK ambassador was forced to stop him.

‘Not appropriate’: Boris Johnson recites Kipling poem in Myanmar temple.

The foreign secretary has been accused of “incredible insensitivity” after it emerged he recited part of a colonial-era Rudyard Kipling poem in front of local dignitaries while on an official visit to Myanmar in January.

Boris Johnson was inside the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist site in the capital Yangon, when he started uttering the opening verse to The Road to Mandalay, including the line: “The temple bells they say/ Come you back you English soldier.”

Kipling’s poem captures the nostalgia of a retired serviceman looking back on his colonial service and a Burmese girl he kissed. Britain colonised Myanmar from 1824 to 1948 and fought three wars in the 19th century, suppressing widespread resistance.

Johnson’s impromptu recital was so embarrassing that the UK ambassador to Myanmar, Andrew Patrick, was forced to stop him. …

The previously unbroadcast footage shows the diplomat managing to halt Johnson before he could get to the line about a “Bloomin’ idol made o’ mud/ Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd” – a reference to the Buddha.

The gaffe came on the first visit to Myanmar by a British foreign secretary in five years. He had taken part in a ritual involving pouring water over a golden statue of what he described as “a very big guinea pig”, when he approached a 42-tonne bell, rang it with a wooden stick and spontaneously started reciting Kipling’s poem.

A visibly tense ambassador stood by as Johnson continued: “The wind is in the palm trees and the temple bells they say …” Then Patrick reminded him: “You’re on mic,” adding: “Probably not a good idea…”

“What?” Johnson replied. “The Road to Mandalay?”

“No,” said the ambassador sternly. “Not appropriate.”

“No?” replied Johnson looking down at his mobile phone. “Good stuff.”

“It is stunning he would do this there,” said Mark Farmaner, director of the Burma Campaign UK. “There is a sensitivity about British colonialism and it is something that people in Burma are still resentful about. British colonial times were seen as a humiliation and an insult.

“It shows an incredible lack of understanding especially now we are seeing the impact of Buddhist nationalism, especially in Rakine state [where Rohingya muslims have been been the subject of violent persecution].”

RTWT

The sooner the Tories make Boris PM the better.

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Mandalay

BY THE old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ lazy at the sea,
There’s a Burma girl a-settin’, and I know she thinks o’ me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:
“Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay! ”
Come you back to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay:
Can’t you ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay ?
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!

‘Er petticoat was yaller an’ ‘er little cap was green,
An’ ‘er name was Supi-yaw-lat – jes’ the same as Theebaw’s Queen,
An’ I seed her first a-smokin’ of a whackin’ white cheroot,
An’ a-wastin’ Christian kisses on an ‘eathen idol’s foot:
Bloomin’ idol made o’ mud
Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd
Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed ‘er where she stud!
On the road to Mandalay…

When the mist was on the rice-fields an’ the sun was droppin’ slow,
She’d git ‘er little banjo an’ she’d sing “Kulla-lo-lo!
With ‘er arm upon my shoulder an’ ‘er cheek agin my cheek
We useter watch the steamers an’ the hathis pilin’ teak.
Elephints a-pilin’ teak
In the sludgy, squdgy creek,
Where the silence ‘ung that ‘eavy you was ‘arf afraid to speak!
On the road to Mandalay…

But that’s all shove be’ind me – long ago an’ fur away
An’ there ain’t no ‘busses runnin’ from the Bank to Mandalay;
An’ I’m learnin’ ‘ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells:
“If you’ve ‘eard the East a-callin’, you won’t never ‘eed naught else.”
No! you won’t ‘eed nothin’ else
But them spicy garlic smells,
An’ the sunshine an’ the palm-trees an’ the tinkly temple-bells;
On the road to Mandalay…

I am sick o’ wastin’ leather on these gritty pavin’-stones,
An’ the blasted English drizzle wakes the fever in my bones;
Tho’ I walks with fifty ‘ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand,
An’ they talks a lot o’ lovin’, but wot do they understand?
Beefy face an’ grubby ‘and –
Law! wot do they understand?
I’ve a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!
On the road to Mandalay…

Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there aren’t no Ten Commandments an’ a man can raise a thirst;
For the temple-bells are callin’, an’ it’s there that I would be
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea;
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay,
With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay!
O the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay !

29 Sep 2017

Cambridge Librarian Returns First Lady’s Books

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Liz Phipps Soeiro, School Librarian, Cambridge, Massachusetts

First Lady Melania Trump, as part of National “Read-a-Book” Day, sent ten Dr. Seuss books complete with White House bookplates bearing the donor’s name to one specially-selected school in each of the 50 states.

One might suppose that the local authority figures would smile at the thought of the small children of their neighborhood enjoying such a gift. But, not in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In Cambridge, School Librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro spurned Melania Trump’s gift responding with a remarkably pretentious and ungracious letter, filled with partisan political venom, published in Horn Book Family Reading, reading in part.

My students were interested in reading your enclosed letter and impressed with the beautiful bookplates with your name and the indelible White House stamp, however, we will not be keeping the titles for our collection. I’d like to respectfully offer my explanation.

* * * * *

My school and my library are indeed award-winning. I work in a district that has plenty of resources, which contributes directly to “excellence.” Cambridge, Massachusetts, is an amazing city with robust social programming, a responsive city government, free all-day kindergarten, and well-paid teachers (relatively speaking — many of us can’t afford to live in the city in which we teach). My students have access to a school library with over nine thousand volumes and a librarian with a graduate degree in library science. Multiple studies show that schools with professionally staffed libraries improve student performance. The American Association of School Librarians has a great infographic on these findings. Many schools around the state and country can’t compete.

Yearly per-pupil spending in Cambridge is well over $20,000; our city’s values are such that given a HUGE range in the socioeconomic status of our residents, we believe that each and every child deserves the best free education possible and are working hard to make that a reality (most classrooms maintain a 60/40 split between free/reduced lunch and paid lunch). …

Meanwhile, school libraries around the country are being shuttered. Cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit are suffering through expansion, privatization, and school “choice” with no interest in outcomes of children, their families, their teachers, and their schools. Are those kids any less deserving of books simply because of circumstances beyond their control? Why not go out of your way to gift books to underfunded and underprivileged communities that continue to be marginalized and maligned by policies put in place by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos? Why not reflect on those “high standards of excellence” beyond only what the numbers suggest? Secretary DeVos would do well to scaffold and lift schools instead of punishing them with closures and slashed budgets.

* * * * *

So, my school doesn’t have a NEED for these books. And then there’s the matter of the books themselves. You may not be aware of this, but Dr. Seuss is a bit of a cliché, a tired and worn ambassador for children’s literature. As First Lady of the United States, you have an incredible platform with world-class resources at your fingertips. Just down the street you have access to a phenomenal children’s librarian: Dr. Carla Hayden, the current Librarian of Congress. I have no doubt Dr. Hayden would have given you some stellar recommendations.

Another fact that many people are unaware of is that Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes. Open one of his books (If I Ran a Zoo or And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, for example), and you’ll see the racist mockery in his art. Grace Hwang Lynch’s School Library Journal article, “Is the Cat in the Hat Racist? Read Across America Shifts Away from Dr. Seuss and Toward Diverse Books,” reports on Katie Ishizuka’s work analyzing the minstrel characteristics and trope nature of Seuss’s characters. Scholar Philip Nel’s new book, Was the Cat in the Hat Black? The Hidden Racism of Children’s Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books, further explores and shines a spotlight on the systemic racism and oppression in education and literature.

I am honored that you recognized my students and our school. I can think of no better gift for children than books; it was a wonderful gesture, if one that could have been better thought out. Books can be a powerful way to learn about and experience the world around us; they help build empathy and understanding. In return, I’m attaching a list of ten books (it’s the librarian in me) that I hope will offer you a window into the lives of the many children affected by the policies of your husband’s administration. You and your husband have a direct impact on these children’s lives. Please make time to learn about and value them. I hope you share these books with your family and with kids around the country. And I encourage you to reach out to your local librarian for more recommendations.

Warmly,

Liz Phipps Soeiro
School Librarian
Cambridge, MA

What a self-righteous, self-important pill!

Dr. Seuss a racist? His “Mulberry Street” book (read aloud on YouTube) features a child’s imaginative reference to a rajah riding and elephant and a Chinese man who eats with sticks. Wow! How terrible.

11 Sep 2017

Out With Lafayette, Too (Dirty Slave-Owner)

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WRAL reports on just how all-encompassing the wrath of the righteous has become.

Fayetteville, N.C. — Cumberland County’s interim schools superintendent this week canceled a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a school environmental initiative because the program’s mascot, Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette, owned slaves.

“I think in lieu of what’s going on around the nation and the sensitivity to issues concerning the history of slavery in the country, there was concern there that it may be offensive to some members of our community,” Superintendent Tim Kinlaw said, citing recent protests and violence surrounding Confederate Civil War monuments.

Biographers say Lafayette, a Frenchman who was a major general in the Continental Army, was an abolitionist who purchased slaves with the intent of freeing them. In 1783, Fayetteville was the first of several towns in America to be named for him.

RTWT

02 Sep 2017

We’re All “Serfs on Google’s Farm”

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Josh Marshall, at leftist Talking Points Memo,

[W]e at TPM – and some version of this is the case for the vast majority of publishers – are connected to Google at almost every turn. … Running TPM absent Google’s various services is almost unthinkable. Like I literally would need to give it a lot of thought how we’d do without all of them. Some of them are critical and I wouldn’t know where to start for replacing them. In many cases, alternatives don’t exist because no business can get a footing with a product Google lets people use for free.

But here’s where the rubber really meets the road. The publishers use DoubleClick. The big advertisers use DoubleClick. The big global advertising holding companies use Doubleclick. Everybody at every point in the industry is wired into DoubleClick. Here’s how they all play together. The adserving (Doubleclick) is like the road. (Adexchange) is the biggest car on the road. But only AdExchange gets full visibility into what’s available. (There’s lot of details here and argument about just what Google does and doesn’t know. But trust me on this. They keep the key information to themselves. This isn’t a suspicion. It’s the model.) So Google owns the road and gets first look at what’s on the road. So not only does Google own the road and makes the rules for the road, it has special privileges on the road. One of the ways it has special privileges is that it has all the data it gets from search, Google Analytics and Gmail. It also gets to make the first bid on every bit of inventory. Of course that’s critical. First dibs with more information than anyone else has access to. (Some exceptions to this. But that’s the big picture.) It’s good to be the king. It’s good to be a Google.

There’s more I’ll get to in a moment but the interplay between DoubleClick and Adexchange is so vastly important to the entirety of the web, digital publishing and the entire ad industry that it is almost impossible to overstate. Again. They own the road. They make the rules for the road. They get special privileges on the road with every new iteration of rules.

In recent years, the big new things are various kinds of private deals and private markets you can set up to do business in different ways with advertisers. That uses Google architecture and they take a percentage. How much of a percentage does Google take on what I was referring to above – the so-called open auction? No one knows.

Now Google can say – and they are absolutely right – that every month they send checks for thousands and millions of dollars to countless publishers that make their journalism possible. And in general Google tends to be a relatively benign overlord. But as someone who a) knows the industry inside and out – down to the most nuts and bolts mechanics – b) someone who understands at least the rudiments of anti-trust law and monopoly economics and c) can write for a sizable audience, I can tell you this.: Google’s monopoly control is almost comically great. It’s a monopoly at every conceivable turn and consistently uses that market power to deepen its hold and increase its profits. Just the interplay between DoubleClick and Adexchange is textbook anti-competitive practices.

There’s one way that Google is better than Facebook. When Facebook is getting a bigger and bigger share of the advertising pie, that money is almost all going to Facebook. There are some small exceptions but that’s basically the case. When Google is making insane amounts of money on advertising, it’s not really the same since a huge amount of that advertising is running on websites which are getting a cut. Still, the big story is that Google and Facebook now have a dominant position in the entirety of the advertising ecosystem and are using their monopoly power to take more and more of the money for themselves.

We’re basically too small for Google to care about. So I wouldn’t say we’ve had any bad experiences with Google in the sense of Google trying to injure us or use its power against us. What we’ve experienced is a little different. Google is so big and so powerful that even when it’s trying to do something good, it can be dangerous and frightening.

Here’s an example.

With the events of recent months and years, Google is apparently now trying to weed out publishers that are using its money streams and architecture to publish hate speech. Certainly you’d probably be unhappy to hear that Stormfront was funded by ads run through Google. I’m not saying that’s happening. I’m just giving you a sense of what they are apparently trying to combat. Over the last several months we’ve gotten a few notifications from Google telling us that certain pages of ours were penalized for ‘violations’ of their ban for hate speech. When we looked at the pages they were talking about they were articles about white supremacist incidents. Most were tied to Dylann Roof’s mass murder in Charleston.

Now in practice all this meant was that two or three old stories about Dylann Roof could no longer run ads purchased through Google. I’d say it’s unlikely that loss to TPM amounted to even a cent a month. Totally meaningless. But here’s the catch. The way these warnings work and the way these particular warnings were worded, you get penalized enough times and then you’re blacklisted.

Now, certainly you’re figuring we could contact someone at Google and explain that we’re not publishing hate speech and racist violence. We’re reporting on it. Not really. We tried that. We got back a message from our rep not really understanding the distinction and cheerily telling us to try to operate within the no hate speech rules. And how many warnings until we’re blacklisted? Who knows?

If we were cut off, would that be Adexchange (the ads) or DoubleClick for Publishers (the road) or both? Who knows?

If the first stopped we’d lose a big chunk of money that wouldn’t put us out of business but would likely force us to retrench. If we were kicked off the road more than half of our total revenue would disappear instantly and would stay disappeared until we found a new road – i.e., a new ad serving service or technology. At a minimum that would be a devastating blow that would require us to find a totally different ad serving system, make major technical changes to the site to accommodate the new system and likely not be able to make as much from ads ever again. That’s not including some unknown period of time – certainly weeks at least – in which we went with literally no ad revenue.

Needless to say, the impact of this would be cataclysmic and could easily drive us out of business.

Now it’s never happened. And this whole scenario stems from what is at least a well-intentioned effort not to subsidize hate speech and racist groups. Again, it hasn’t happened. So in some sense the cataclysmic scenario I’m describing is as much a product of my paranoia as something Google could or might do. But when an outside player has that much power, often acts arbitrarily (even when well-intentioned) and is almost impossible to communicate with, a significant amount of paranoia is healthy and inevitable.

I give this example only to illustrate the way that Google is so powerful and so all-encompassing that it can actually do great damage unintentionally.

RTWT

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

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NYM is obviously a lot smaller than TPM, and unlike TPM, tries to operate without outside funding. This is undoubtedly severely limiting. I pay for expenses out of pocket, and can’t afford subscriptions to costly research services. I have no interns or assistants. I don’t make anything more than pocket change, and therefore blogging is just a small avocation and minor duty for me. A more serious blog, making a real income, would contain a lot more original writing and research.

Sometime back, I used to make something like $150-200 a couple of times a year from Google Adsense. One day Google’s Ads disappeared. It took me six months or so to notice (sigh!). And when I looked into what had happened, this was roughly four years ago, I found I had been given an ultimatum from Google. I had to remove a posting and beg to be forgiven, and then I might have my ads restored.

I sent the Google Adsense team a foreign language literary reference, “Ich heisse Götz von Berlichingen,” inviting them to kiss my ass. I have since done without Google Adsense.

Here’s the posting describing all that.

Josh Marshall is right, I think, to be concerned with the power wielded these days by a handful of corporations which have arrived at positions of control over speech and communications incidentally in the course of the more conventional corporate drive for profit and market control.

Companies like Google are demonstrably not above applying Planetary-sized corporate muscle to enforce standards not only of speech, but of opinion, reflecting the mere prejudices and whims of corporate chieftains applied robotically by lesser imps deep in the depths of their own bureaucracy.

Libertarians like myself would normally be found arguing that Google isn’t really a monopoly, you can use Duck Duck Go or Bing instead, and contending that corporations have a right to make their own terms. Today, however, we have corporations possessed, ephemerally perhaps, of dominant position gate-keeping kinds of power, appointing themselves as universal censors of speech and political opinion they do not like. They are literally able to silence people they look upon unfavorably, and they are therefore, in reality, exercising governmental powers without anybody ever having voted and elected them.

The Civil Rights Bill of 1964 applied an older Common Law doctrine of Public Accommodations being required to serve everyone. There is no reason that the same doctrine shouldn’t be applied to the likes of Google, Yahoo, and Go Daddy.

23 Aug 2017

“Moved to an As-Yet-Undecided Location Where it Will be Available for Study and Viewing”

, , , ,

Remember the little architectural joke detail near a previously-little-used entrance to Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library that, what with impending more frequent passage of more visitors, earlier this month, was deemed problematically guilty of endorsing European oppression of Native Americans, as well as triggering to hoplophobes, by the powers that be in the library administration, resulting in the Puritan with the blunderbuss being covered over by a large rock, but the sneaky redskin left perfectly free to stalk his adversary with a bow-and-arrow?

The Yale Daily News reports that merely covering half the image with a rock has been found to be inadequate.

Yale will remove from Sterling Memorial Library a stone carving that depicts a Puritan holding a musket to the head of a Native American, University officials announced Tuesday.

The announcement comes in the wake of widespread criticism of Yale for initially covering the musket with removable stonework. The concealment of the musket was first reported by the Yale Alumni Magazine on Aug. 9.

Rather than alter the image, the University now plans to move the stonework — which is located near the entrance to the recently renovated Center for Teaching and Learning — to an as-yet-undecided location where it will be available for study and viewing.

You have to hand it to the Yale Administration.

The decision to cover the musket was made by employees in Yale’s facilities division who were involved in the renovation of the Center for Teaching and Learning, said Vice President for Communications Eileen O’Connor.

“They were told to figure out how to remove it, and they thought it was going to be too difficult to remove,” O’Connor said. “So they thought, ‘We know it’s controversial, we’ll figure it out, we’re can-do people, and we will cover it.’”

O’Connor declined to name the Yale officials involved in that decision. But she said the employees were unaware of the University’s principles for renaming, which were outlined in a report released last December.

The report stipulates that the University should contextualize renaming decisions to avoid “erasing history.” The covering of the musket contradicted that principle, Yale officials say.

In a statement on Tuesday, University President Peter Salovey said Yale should not “make alterations to works of art on our campus.”

“Such alteration represents an erasure of history, which is entirely inappropriate at a university,” Salovey said. “We are obligated to allow students and others to view such images, even when they are offensive, and to study and learn from them.”

They are not “altering” the work of art that is Sterling Memorial Library. They are not “erasing history.” No, no, no, they are merely “moving” it “to an as-yet-undecided location where it will be available for study and viewing.”

One expects that it won’t be all that long before people guilty of Wrong Think will not be exiled or purged, they will just be “moved to an as-yet-undecided location [one much resembling Siberia] where they will be available for study and viewing.”

RTWT

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